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E-mail Ads Emerging as Effective Marketing Tool

E-mail ads are growing up, reaching new levels of sophistication and achieving more results than ever. The trend is especially true among high-end retailers, whose customers view such ads as a quick shopping trip or a guilty pleasure they take during the course of an average workday. "What we're seeing is that retailers are getting smarter about how they use e-mail, not just using it more often, but using it more effectively," says Bart Sichel, an associate principal with consulting firm McKinsey & Co. "There's no doubt that promotional offers work, but at the same time, especially for the higher-end players, they're learning how to create compelling messaging, too." The e-mail ads are considerably flashier than the ones used years ago. Rather than boring, text-only messages, these ads employ all the latest high-tech graphic wizardry and photography made possible by widespread high-speed Internet access to target their audience. A survey of 137 online retailers by Forrester Research revealed that on average, consumers open e-mail ads at a rate of about 33 percent and "unsubscribe," or ask to be taken off the mailing list, at an annual rate of 9%. Shoppers "click through" to retail sites at an average rate of 11 percent, and place an order at an average rate of 4.3 percent, according to the study.



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